A new award fund has been set up for incoming Okanagan College students with the help of a Kelowna TV personality.
Jillian Harris’ subscription box will have goodies for a cause this fall, as it will raise money for an award fund for Indigenous students, Black students, and students of colour at Okanagan College.
The college said The Jilly Box will start the fund off with $15,000, then subsequently match the donations up to $10,000 with the goal of hitting $50,000. The fund will then offer two annual awards of $2,500 as well as opportunities for mentorship to Okanagan College students for the next ten years.
“We donate a portion of our proceeds from The Jilly Box sales each quarter and this year we wanted to support the social issue of racial equity,” The Jilly Box community coordinator Cynthia Pottinger said.
“We believe that access to post-secondary education plays a major role in creating a more equitable and fair society so we are thrilled to work with the college to support students and relieve some of their financial burdens as they pursue their educational endeavours.”
Sophie Wilson is a member of the Penticton Indian Band and is a business student at Okanagan College. She said student awards such as this have been an important part of her support system as she studies.
“Caring for my daughter as a single parent, bursaries and awards really help us on a day-to-day basis,” she said.
“For me to be able to provide for her, pay bills and rent. I am really thankful for the support.”
Wilson added that awards specifically for underrepresented students will help make post-secondary education more accessible and create more opportunities for international students as well.
Currently, more than $19,000 has been raised, with 527 customers donating as part of their purchase. The Jilly Box team said they’re expecting more donations as the campaign continues into the fall.
“We will keep fundraising for this award fund in hopes that it will grow to become a self-sustaining fund that can grand additional and larger awards for years to come,” Jillian Harris said.
“It is my hope that many individuals and companies will be inspired to donate. Thank you for supporting The Jilly Box Award and I look forward to making a difference with you.”
Okanagan College Foundation executive director Helen Jackman said the new award fund is also important to the college’s commitment to building up justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion on campus.
To learn more about The Jilly Box Award and to donate, visit the fundraising page.